Gothic, alternative and dark subcultures expert who’s an award-winning blogger. Her leading blog focuses on Goth/Satanic culture in Japan and worldwide, winning the “Best Blog of the Year” award in 2017. Not only has she traveled to 70 countries, she is a TEDx speaker giving the first TED talk about Goths. Working as an on-camera host and local producer for TV shows worldwide her credits also include NBC (Better Late Than Never), Kawaii TV (NHK Japan), Discovery (Oddities), National Geographic (Taboo, Roam), Food Network (World’s Weirdest Restaurants), Travel Channel (Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern, No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain promo, Could I Live There), “The Purge TV” with Blumhouse, “The Doctors”, “Today Show,” “CNN”, “ABC Nightline” and other international networks (Canal Plus, Pro Sieben, Norway TV). In addition to her extensive online and blog following, La Carmina published three books with Random House and Penguin, and writes for various publications including CNN, The Daily Beast, Architectural Digest, Business Insider and Sunday Times.
Interview Meikee Magnetic
Where were you born and where do you call home now?
I was born and raised in Vancouver, BC. For all of my life, I’ve traveled at least once a year to Asia, and spent significant time in Hong Kong and Japan. I’m currently in lock down in Vancouver, Canada and haven’t left my province of British Columbia since March 2020. Even though I work in travel and have received job offers like influencer press trips. Until we can travel safely and responsibly again, I’m focusing on freelance writing about the topics I love such as Gothic interior design, minimalist architecture and devilish destinations. A career pivot is always challenging, but it’s been paying off: I received a Society of Travel Writers award for my journalism in 2020, and was interviewed by The New York Times and other publications. Above all, I’m excited to return to Tokyo and see my friends as soon as I can.
You’ve played a very big role in travel blogs and beyond since the mid 2000’s. When you started how new was this format and how many were doing it?
I officially launched my La Carmina Blog in September 2007, so I was quite early to the blogging game. There were only a handful of notable fashion and culture bloggers at the time, and their creativity inspired me to start my own. Throughout the years, social networks have come and gone but I’ve continued to share my worldwide style and subculture adventures on La Carmina Blog. I feel it’s important to self-host and own your content, rather than publishing it on other platforms and being subject to their rules and algorithms. I’m on social media (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook), but I consider these platforms secondary to my travel/subculture blogging work where I have total freedom. It’s fun to look back at my old photos and reports to see how the blogging industry and opportunities have changed over the years. I’m especially glad I chronicled the effervescent Gothic and Visual Kei scene in Tokyo in the mid-late 2000s, as it no longer exists in the same way.
Tell us about your upcoming The Satanic Temple TV show:
My friend Dr. John Skutlin and I have been researching and publishing about Japanese Satanism for over a decade now, as well as devilish cultures worldwide (Day of the Dead and Brushing of the Bones in Mexico, Santeria in Cuba, Buddhist hell-beings in Thailand, and more). The Satanic Temple launched a terrific new web television platform, and TST co-founder/spokesperson Lucien Greaves invited me to create a series for The Satanic Temple TV. Our show, “Satanic Show + Tell,” covers history, anthropology, art and culture around the world related to devils and demons. In each entertaining episode, we interview a notable guest about their collections of Satanic objects, which can range from Devilman guitars to antique Satan puppets. Then, John and I do a “show and tell” of our own, often focusing on dark objects from Japan such as the horned hannya mask that represents a jealous woman who has transformed into a she-demon. We’re excited for “Satanic Show + Tell” to debut soon on The Satanic Temple TV.
Have you visited any music celebrities for the show or other interesting characters?
We will be interviewing Daniel Graves of the band Aesthetic Perfection, and other favorite Gothic musicians. So far, our renowned guests have included Evan Michelson and Ryan Matthew Cohn from the TV show “Oddities” on Discovery/Science Channel, and Alex Streeter of Angel Ring pentagram jewelry fame. We also did an engaging episode with the nephew and sister of Metallica’s guitarist Kirk Hammett, who has one of the world’s most impressive classic horror film collections.
You have such an extensive and amazing career, how to you keep it all in balance?
Whenever possible I focus on different projects at different times to keep myself from being overwhelmed. For example, for the past 5 or so years (before COVID), I had many opportunities to travel and work in TV hosting and production so I didn’t do much freelance journalism or web video content. Now that we’re all staying at home, I have the time to write for magazines and film remotely for my The Satanic Temple TV show. I make time for workouts like yoga or Pilates and I’m a fan of the Just Dance app plus regular Zoom calls with friends. I’ve also been loving the weekly Movie Night on The Satanic Temple TV; Lucien Greaves streams awful B-movies and retro video clips, and anyone is welcome to watch and snark in the “DemonChat” web chat!
You delivered the first TED Talk about Goths in late 2020. Can you tell us about it?
Being part of TED Talks was one of the best things to come out of the 2020 craziness. My close friend Molly encouraged me to apply to the Vancouver conference (TEDxSFU) in the spring of 2020. I went through three rounds of intense interviews before receiving the incredible news that I was chosen as one of the TEDx speakers, out of hundreds of applicants. Then, the team members and I did months of bi-weekly coaching sessions over Zoom, which let us develop our speeches and presentation skills, as well as get to know each other. I am grateful about how it all came together: I gave a 15 minute talk about growing up Goth, and what the subculture means to me. I unraveled six of the biggest stereotypes about Goths, and hopefully helped reveal the unexpected beauty and community of our dark subculture.
What does Dark Beauty mean to you?
Since I was young, I’ve naturally gravitated to the more morbid aspects of life. Instead of being afraid of things associated with death and the macabre like skulls and bats, I thought they had an unexpected beauty. If someone finds that hard to grasp, I’d ask them: have you ever really looked at a bat? They have a fascinating geometry when hanging upside down, and in flight, their wings make them look like angels of the night. In this way, I’m endlessly captivated by how Goths subvert norms about “beauty” in terms of how they wear makeup and fashion, compose music, create art, or whatever it might be.